Name: Ben Hess
Firm: Irwin Mitchell
Position: Trainee Solicitor
Degree: Law (LLB)
University: University of Birmingham
Current department: Commercial Litigation
Number of TC applications made and interviews attended: 20+/5
Why did you decide to train as a solicitor?
After graduating with a law degree and having a general desire to become a solicitor, I spent a year working in London in non-legal jobs and doing voluntary pro bono work in my spare time. The pro bono cases I assisted with fired me up to actively pursue a career as a solicitor.
What were the biggest challenges you faced when trying to secure a training contract?
I self-funded the LPC as I had not secured a training contract by the time I was keen to start the course. The financial burden was something I took on with confidence in my prospects of securing a training contract offer, but it was still a significant weight on my shoulders.
What was the toughest training contract interview question you were asked (at any firm) and how did you answer?
I was once asked the following question at an assessment day:
‘Who would you be surprised to see secure a training contract from among the other candidates?’
I politely refrained from answering in a negative way and spoke about who I would like to train with, rather than put other people down.
Tell us a bit about the type of work handled by the department you’re in at the moment…
In litigation I have assisted on matters for institutional banks, SMEs and individuals. A lot of the work I have been doing is more “dispute resolution”, as clients often come to us trying to resolve a matter without having to seek redress through the courts.
What are the most enjoyable aspects of your job?
In litigation I enjoy analysing the detail of a dispute and trying to find a solution that hadn’t previously been considered by the warring parties. When you can secure a positive outcome for a client after protracted negotiations and litigation, it can be very rewarding.
What about your job didn’t you expect before you started?
The BLS (Business Legal Services) division at Irwin Mitchell is building its reputation and growing. Our recent merger with Thomas Eggar gives a flavour of the ambitious plans here. There is a sense of dynamism and entrepreneurial thrust that I didn’t expect from the outside looking in.
Who’s the most recent email in your inbox from, and what’s it about?
Confidential I’m afraid!
Where’s the best place to go to get your office’s gossip?
It’s quite a sociable office and most people stay for a quick post-work drink on a Friday, which provides a good chance to hear about the latest goings on.
Describe your training partner in three words.
Strident. Calm. Fair.
Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order).
- I played non-league football against Jamie Vardy
- I worked at the London 2012 Olympics in the Athletes Village
- I sang on the pitch at Wembley in front of 90,000 people and a TV audience of 500 million.
If you had not decided to become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?
A footballer! Or more likely a career in business, or perhaps as a civil servant or in the Armed Forces.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in law?
As with any industry, try it out by offering yourself up to do free work experience to see if it matches your attributes and interests. Try a few different firms as the culture can be very different. If you want to be a commercial lawyer, try to secure a place on a vacation scheme, as this will provide a great opportunity to secure a training contract offer rather than “applying cold”.